Sue Thrasher

Before coming to UMass Sue spent more than 20-years involved in social activism in the South. In 1964, she helped organize the founding meeting of the Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC), an organization dedicated to engaging white southern college students in the civil rights struggle. After spending the summer of 1964 as a volunteer with Mississippi Freedom Summer, she returned to Nashville to work full time with SSOC.  


In 1970, she co-founded the Institute for Southern Studies which published Southern Exposure magazine. In 1978, she joined the staff of the Highlander Research and Education Center where she was mentored by Myles Horton. 


She came to CIE in the fall of 1986 looking to explore the connections between her educational work at Highlander and the theoretical writings of Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire. Her dissertation focused on women popular educators; it was, in large part, a mechanism to reflect on her own work and life.  


In 2013, after 27 years of service, she retired from her position as Director of Outreach at Five Colleges, Incorporated, a consortium of the University of Massachusetts and Amherst, Hampshire,  Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges. While there, she successfully ran two National Science Foundation projects, a National Endowment of the Humanities project on Native Americans in New England, and a ten-year partnership with the Springfield Public Schools on Teaching American History.


She is an author of Deep in our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement (University of Georgia) and Teaching the American Civil Rights Movement (Routledge). She has contributed to several volumes based on oral history interviews, including Refuse to Stand Silently By: An Oral History of Grassroots Activism in America, 1921-1964 (Doubleday) and We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations with Myles Horton and Paulo Freire (Temple University Press).  She co-edited two special issues of Southern Exposure on southern progressive history ("No More Moanin") and religion in the South ("On Jordan's Stormy Banks").


Sue has recorded a number of interviews in recent years including one in 2015 for the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina reflecting on the 50th anniversary in 2010 of SNCC. In 2017 she also did a series of oral history interviews for the Georgia State Uncivility Library.


She currently lives in Savannah, Tennessee. [8-20]




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